A small planting of macadamia nut trees was first cultivated at ‘Iole in 1921 across the road from Kalahikiola Church. Additional trees were added was in 1955, but the majority of the trees at ‘Iole today date back to 1988, when these orchards were expanded dramatically.
Today, Island Harvest Inc. cares for at least 20,000 trees, making this the largest organic macadamia nut orchard in Hawai‘i. Harvesting begins each August and continues through January.You may see Island Harvest mowing orchards throughout the year, as organic orchards are not sprayed with herbicides to suppress grass and weeds.
A surprising number of life forms inhabit the areas surrounding the macadamia trees. In addition to the noticeable variety of mosses and ferns covering each tree, there are rich populations of mirco-organisms in the soils of this organic orchard. Sustainable practices including routine composting using nut husks, addition of natural fertilizers, and protection from pesticides and chemicals contribute to this diversity.
These orchards are known to be home to ‘ōpe‘ape‘a (Hawaiian Hoary Bat), whose populations are monitored here by the USGS Hawaiian Hoary Bat Project. While macadamia trees are blossoming, the orchards also play host to domestic honey bees from Volcano Island Honey.